In poetry land there’s a myth that art is tainted by popularity: the more eyes see it, the more corrupt it becomes. Said myth is outdated and nonsensical, but survives because it’s a nice stunt double for artistic integrity. It’s also great for cognitive dissonance: if no one’s reading poetry, it helps to think we never wanted them to. AND it justifies our laziness in connecting with non-poets.
But um… The myth is rank, you guys. It creates disdain for the public, shames us for our desires to communicate, and imprisons us in insular poetry land… So let’s lose that thing; it’s embarrassing. Musicians has an audience in part because it wants one. It appreciates, respects, and engages the public. We should, too. Similarly…
Like many poets, beginning songwriters can’t get on the cover of Rolling Stone, or appear on The Daily Show. But they don’t give up and play for one another…They play local venues, partner with local companies, create stories that make the local news. They work with nonprofits, tour town to town, make documentaries. They want to be in conversation with the public. This requires exploration, innovation, and risk-taking, and they do it.